The pro range is still the marquee kitchen appliance, and yes it will make a statement in your kitchen.
Viking was the early pioneer, but has lost interest especially against Wolf, Thermador and Jenn-Air. Now Miele has a bold new product. Which should you consider? That all depends.
We will look at features and the companies.
Updated for 2015
What is a Professional Range?
To review, a professional range is a stove with high output BTU burners in a commercial appearance. They are available in all-gas or dual fuel with electric convection ovens.
Regular gas ranges will have at least one professional style burner. The professional range will have all high output burners and at least two burners with a very low simmer.
Jenn-Air: Jenn-Air was best known for downdraft ranges and cooktops then languished after being purchased by Maytag. New parent Whirlpool has invested 300 million dollars in wall ovens and this range. Suddenly, Jenn-Air is relevant again with some really cool features and aggressive rebates.
Thermador: Thermador was known for their wall ovens and cooktops before languishing in the early 1990s. In 1997, Bosch acquired Thermador and turned the company around. Thermador is another brand with aggressive rebates.
Viking: Viking started the professional range segment in 1987 and still has a decent, yet sometimes antiquated offering. I like Viking, but they were late to innovate their product line.
They were acquired by Middleby, makers of TurboChef, in January 2013. They will have to address the myriad service issues within this company to be relevant once more. To be transparent, we no longer sell the Viking line.
Wolf: Wolf was independent until being purchased and rejuvenated by Sub-Zero in the late 1990s. It is still considered state of the art in the industry due to its twin convection powered oven and dual stack simmer burners.
Miele: Brand new range designed and manufactured in Germany. Known for their iconic dishwasher, Miele typically produces the most reliable appliances on the market. They have not been as successful manufacturing products exclusively for the American market. Their full size laundry was discontinued 4 years ago after a short period of time.
All these ranges are manufactured in the USA with the exception of Miele. Each has its features and reasons to buy. The ranges are all gas. They are available in dual fuel with electric ovens as well, but dual fuel has totally different features.
The Best 30 Inch Professional Ranges (click here for 48 inch):
Jenn-Air JGRP430WP - $3,999: Jenn-Air has retooled their cooking and has started to manufacture a great professional range. This range has two 20,000 BTU burners, an advanced interactive LCD clock and twin convection oven. Jenn-Air also offers a free dishwasher with the purchase of this range.
Thermador PRG304GH - $4,149: Thermador is known for its star burners with even heat distribution and extremely low simmer. The Thermador can simmer at an unbelievable 100°. It turns on and off intermittently to achieve this temperature. Thermador will also be offering a free dishwasher (to combat Jenn-Air) as well as a free hood promotion with other qualifying purchases.
Viking VGIC5304BSS - $4,599: Viking is the original professional range. They actually offer five different professional ranges in the 30 inch size including dual fuel, induction, gas convection, self-cleaning and non-self-cleaning (for a description of the differences, read this post). They also have a free dishwasher promotion.
Wolf GR304 - $4,569: Wolf has the dual stacked burners for a really good simmer on each burner. There is also up to $2,500 in rebates with other combined purchases with Sub-Zero.
Miele HR1124 - $4999: Miele has really great output per burner at 19,000 BTU. They also offer the twin convection for even cooking. This range is also the most cleanable. It is self-cleaning. The racks are designed to withstand the heat of the self-cleaning cycle, so you do not have to remove them and wash separately. The grates are also dishwasher safe.
Which do you buy?
That really depends on what you like. From a price/feature standpoint, Jenn-Air, Viking and Thermador are great value both with free dishwashers and under $4400.
Jenn-Air is more powerful with two 20,000 BTU outputs and two 15,000. Thermador is all 18,000, Viking has one 18,000 BTU burner and the rest are 15,000. Wolf has all 15,000 BTU burners. Miele is all 19,500 BTU burners.
Jenn-Air also has a better clock and timer mechanism, which is actually a 7-inch LCD screen. Miele has a more basic clock and timer.
All the ranges offer convection (fan forced heat for more even baking and roasting). Miele and Jenn-Air have twin convection or two fans for even more even baking. I like twin convection in 36 inch ovens, because there is more of a difference in larger cavities.
Still, most 30 inch wall ovens have twin convection, so it is an advantage.
Jenn-Air and Miele are the only companies offering self-cleaning in an all gas model. Every company features self-cleaning in their dual fuel ranges.
You would think high to low would be an easy comparison, but its not. Thermador is the lowest with temperatures as low as 100 degrees. It is, however, an intermittent or on/off simmer. Wolf has a consistent simmer at a higher temperature of 500 degrees with a smaller burner of 375 degrees.
Promotions have become a huge part of the upscale industry. Thermador and Jenn-Air offer a free dishwasher with the purchase of their ranges in addition to more rebates with addition purchases. Viking (when we sold it) had a similar rebate plan.
Wolf will offer a $2,500 rebate until March 2015. Miele never has offered promotions and is the highest price.
This is interesting. Thermador is the most reliable domestic upscale manufacturer at 15% service calls in the first year with Wolf and then Jenn-Air slightly behind. Miele is the most reliable manufacturer at a miniscule 5%, but they have never produced a professional range (or anything close). There will probably be a learning curve.
As I said before, this is a tough choice. If you are using the top cooking surface, look at Jenn-Air or Miele for power or Wolf and Thermador for a better simmer. I like the twin convection of Miele with the clock/timer functionality of Jenn-Air.
All have merit depending on your budget and what features interest you.
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